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Petsmart groomer: "You should try some obedience classes". What should I be teaching?

My Blue Heeler pup is 8 weeks.


I got his nails clipped today at Petsmart, and he was very hard on the groomer.

Eventually I will do some group obedience classes, but at 8 weeks, what is he ABLE to learn exactly? So far, I am just working on potty training him and getting him to come when I call. Besides that, I just don't see the attention span. He's a fireball of energy whenever he's outside of his crate. He won't really walk on the leash or willingly leave the yard to go on a walk (the yard is pretty small) so it's getting hard to get him the exercise he needs to where he will crash anymore.

He seems to be testing his limits with humans. What should I focus on first?
 

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Re: Petsmart groomer: "You should try some obedience classes". What should I be teach

A puppy "kindergarten" may be a good idea, if offered in your area. I don't think a structured obedience class would be useful at this point, though.

I don't think things you learn in obedience class like sit and lie down and walk at heel are useful in real life. So what you want to do is train for real life. Desensitize him to having his paws handled (touch paw, give treat. Do this for a while. Then take paw, give treat, do that for a while, then play with his paw, give treat, etc., until you work up to him not minding anything you do to his paws). Do this with anything you think the vet or groomer will have to do.

I would work on getting him to like the leash, too. He's really too young to be going on walks in places where dogs of unknown health status have been (like parks or on the floor at pet stores), but walking him out to the curb would be OK. If he doesn't learn to walk on leash, his socialization will suffer. First just get him used to wearing a collar (lots of treats and playtime while he's wearing it will distract him). Then have him drag the leash around, lots of treats and playtime. Then pick up the leash, then walk around the house, then walk in the yard, then walk outside the yard, etc., and so on. Baby steps :).
 

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Re: Petsmart groomer: "You should try some obedience classes". What should I be teach

definitely desensitizing. trimming nails, giving shots, applying topical flea meds, brushing, checking teeth, ect- all easy to teach puppies to sit still for with treats, and ALL very useful.

(things like giving shots or trimming nails you dont have to actually do it every time- handling the area and teaching restraint without going crazy goes a long way.)
 

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Re: Petsmart groomer: "You should try some obedience classes". What should I be teach

At 8 weeks he shouldn't be going for walks in the neighborhood, and I hope you didn't let him walk on the floor at Petsmart. Too much parvovirus going around! I would start working on desensitizing him to having his nails done. Start with just handling his feet and feeding a great treat, then holding the paw (supporting it gently is less scary than grabbing it and holding it totally stationary). Then use the clipper near his foot and feed, then tip one nail. And remember, you don't have to get it done all at once. Clip one or two nails and give him a break. Groomers are on a tight schedule and often don't have the flexibility to do this, so a nail trim at the groomers can be pretty scary. I would also get him comfortable with you handling all parts of his body. Remember at 8 weeks he is a baby. He learns fast but has a very limited attention span. So keep training really short and fun.
 

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Re: Petsmart groomer: "You should try some obedience classes". What should I be teach

I'd like to point out that he's a totally normal puppy. Yes, you absolutely should train a dog to tolerate, or even like, all the things he'll have to endure in his life, like nail trimmings and baths and vet visits, but at this age, ball of energy with the attention span of a fruit fly is totally normal. Just keep things positive, use lots of treats and praise and keep training sessions short.
 

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Re: Petsmart groomer: "You should try some obedience classes". What should I be teach

Eventually I will do some group obedience classes, but at 8 weeks, what is he ABLE to learn exactly? So far, I am just working on potty training him and getting him to come when I call. Besides that, I just don't see the attention span..... What should I focus on first?
He is able to learn quite a lot. In fact, he's already learned a lot of things in the litter and during his first days at his new home. Mostly, he is learning how to become a "social" animal that is going to spend a lot of time with humans.

Usually at this age we work on things like house-training, crate-training, learning to be left alone, leash training, learning to be handled without struggling or biting, learning to curb his biting bahavior wrt people, learning to not to steal food or take anythng that doesn't belong to him, etc. I

We also atart with his NILIF work.

A recall is important and is something that he will eventually have to learn, but you can't expect a pup of this age to get it down completely. Small, incremental progress is all we expect, not a complete behavior. You first want him to learn to pay attention and look at you to you EVERY TIME you say his name. You can start teaching him to come to you when he is close by.
 

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Re: Petsmart groomer: "You should try some obedience classes". What should I be teach

He seems to be testing his limits with humans. What should I focus on first?
Not testing his limits with humans, testing his limits with glorious, new, life.
 
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